Leading Stories, Articles

June 26th, 2021

Advocates, legislators address children’s mental health crisis

By Catherine Robertson Souter

The true toll of this pandemic on the mental health of children and adolescents may take decades to fully understand. Young people can be resilient but the academic and social milestones missed may have repercussions across their lifespans that are not yet visible.

With more acute issues of mental health, the effects are being felt in the here and now. Across the United States, mental health-related visits to emergency rooms rose 24 percent for children ages 5-11 and 31 percent for adolescents 12-17 in 2020, as compared with 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control.…

May 6th, 2020

Pandemic affects everyone, especially autistic kids

By Eileen Weber

Coronavirus, or COVID-19 , has ground most of daily life to a halt for weeks. Small businesses are shut down. Children aren’t going to school. People are confined to their homes clinging tightly to toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

Globally, there are more than two million cases of the virus with tens of thousands of deaths. The United States has hundreds of thousands of cases with hotspots in areas of New York and Massachusetts and growing pockets in the South and Midwest. But when it comes to issues surrounding the coronavirus, there is one thing that’s been largely overlooked: kids with autism.

February 4th, 2020

Opioid crisis escalates need for foster care

By Eileen Weber

It’s no secret that the opioid crisis has taken a toll in this country. But according to the CDC’s National Center for Health statistics, the New England states have been hit hardest. Fentanyl was the leading cause of overdose deaths in the country in 2017. In New England alone, there were 22.5 fentanyl overdoses per 100,000 people. And of the New England states, New Hampshire has one of the highest rates of opioid-related overdose deaths nation-wide.

But those suffering from addiction aren’t the only ones impacted; so are their children. More than 400,000 kids in the United States are in foster care at any given point.

October 9th, 2019

Link between video games, violence again examined

By Catherine Robertson Souter

video games and violenceFollowing recent mass shooting tragedies that killed 31 people in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, President Trump condemned the “glorification of violence in our society,” specifically “the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace.” This claim of a link between the tragedies and the use of video games was repeated by other lawmakers, who claimed that the rise of video game use is directly linked to the rise in gun violence.

But is it true? Does playing violent video games cause violent behavior? Or, maybe more importantly, would removing these types of games from our culture curb the behavior?…

August 30th, 2018

Developmental trauma disorder is focus of research

By Catherine Robertson Souter

It would surprise no one that children who have been mistreated or have been subjected to another form of trauma would experience repercussions. It makes sense that trauma can result in symptoms that look like behavioral disorders, oppositional defiant disorders, anxiety, depression, or ADHD.

Yet, for many children the symptoms are treated as not being related to their traumatic experiences.

As part of an on-going research project, Julian D. Ford, Ph.D, A.B.P.P., professor of psychiatry and law at the University of Connecticut and director of the Center for Trauma Recovery and Juvenile Justice, and colleagues Joseph Spinazzola, Ph.D.…

July 7th, 2018

School psychologists: In a class of their own

By Phyllis Hanlon

school psychologistAccording to the American Psychological Association (APA), school psychology has “…evolved as a specialty area with core knowledge rooted in psychology and education.”

Once focused primarily on assessments, today’s school psychologists undergo advanced training, leading to deeper knowledge and understanding of developmental stages, culture, environment, and social emotional issues as they currently apply to school systems.

Graduate students who choose to become school psychologists have two certification options, according to Sandra M. Chafouleas, Ph.D.

Chafouleas is a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor in the department of educational psychology, Neag School of Education.…

June 14th, 2018

Connecticut’s troubled adolescents lack coverage

By Eileen Weber

Mental Illness children ConnecticutOne in every five children between 13 and 18-years-old have or will have a serious mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Based on its statistics in 2015, only a little over half of children aged eight to 15 received mental health services.

Laura Whitmore, associate minister at Southport Congregational in Southport, Conn., has first-hand experience with this situation. With approximately 100 kids and teens in the church’s middle and high school youth groups, she has seen an uptick in issues like stress, anxiety, and depression.

But, there have been more alarming problems as well.…

June 13th, 2018

Vaping: More than just blowing smoke

By Phyllis Hanlon

vaping teenIn 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a National Youth Tobacco Survey and found that 2.39 million teens are “vaping” (i.e., using an electronic smoking device). As this trend continues to grow, parents, schools and health professionals struggle with ways to effectively address the problem.

William T. Mautz, Ph.D, of Children’s Neuropsychological Services in Andover, Arlington and Newton, Massachusetts and Exeter, New Hampshire, indicated that his practice treats a large teen population from both public and independent schools and the problem of vaping cuts across all settings.…

February 6th, 2018

Report documents problems at Maine detention center

By Janine Weisman

Report documents problems at Maine detention centerUnderstaffing has contributed to “dangerous and unhealthy conditions for both youth and staff” at Maine’s only state juvenile detention center, an independent report finds.

Seven vacant Juvenile Program Worker positions at the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland led to the use of regular forced overtime last year when the report by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Children’s Law and Policy (CCLP) was compiled.

The overtime was necessary to achieve a required staff to youth ratio of 1:8 during waking hours and 1:16 during overnight hours.

The report made public in December was commissioned by the Maine Juvenile Justice Advisory Group (JJAG) last August to assess conditions at Long Creek, a secure facility for youth ages 13 to 19.…